If you’re having a difficult day at work, but you were invited to a Twins World Series game in the evening, the day just got easier. If your week includes two difficult assignments, but you have a ski on the weekend, the week’s doable. If winter breaks records for the coldest and longest, a summer month-long trip to the Bahamas enabling you to endure well. If your life has included unbelievable setbacks, heaven looks beyond all imagination.
Destroy someone’s hope, and they start dying before they stop breathing. On the other hand, hope for tomorrow gives you a hold on today. Does anyone live that way? Listen to Paul: “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). You might feel like saying, “Who is calling my affliction ‘light and momentary’? It’s heavy and long-lasting.” I’ll tell you who–a man who endured far more than we ever will–multiple beatings, shipwrecks, sleepless nights, stoning, and more. If you have eight parts of affliction and only two parts of hope, the affliction overpowers you. But if you have twelve parts of affliction, and thirty parts of hope, you are being fueled by the future, and hope wins.
Do you know anyone who has blazing hope? I will tell you how they live. They don’t seem to be taken down by what takes down normal people. They have their share of hardships, but they don’t complain about them much. They are too busy praising God for his goodness, even in the midst of trials. They are not immersed in their circumstances; they are asking you about yours. It feels like they have one foot in eternity. They don’t–they have both feet. Peter told suffering saints, “Set you hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). In other words, put all your marbles in the world to come. That way nothing today robs you of peace.
Oh, we’ll have some doozies. The man who called his hardships “light and momentary” said earlier in the same letter that “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8). For some life can become almost unbearably difficult. So while we “rejoice with those who rejoice,” we continue to “weep with those who weep.” But, we help one another not to abandon the hope that we are marked for eternity. Ninety years here is an infinitesimal fraction compared to forever.
Look who faced disabilities without letting it disable them. Maybe they can give you hope rather than dismantled by difficulties. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for “lack of ideas.” Helen Keller was the first blind and deaf person to get a college degree. Marla Runyan was the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics–as a runner. Beethoven composed some of his greatest masterpieces while deaf. Christy Brown, an Irish painter and writer, could only use his foot for writing and painting. Albert Einstein had a learning disability and didn’t speak until he was three. John Milton became blind at 43 and still wrote his most famous work, Paradise Lost. Thomas Edison frustrated his teachers, too stupid to “get it.” Henry Ford went broke five times before he made it. Anchor your hope in eternity–and live with joy today!